The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced a $56,000 settlement with McDonald’s restaurants in regards to a disability discrimination lawsuit that occurred in southeast Missouri involving a deaf job applicant.
According to the EEOC, "The young man applied online in June 2012 for a position at the Belton McDonald's. The applicant, who is unable to hear or speak, had previous experience working at a McDonald's in another state as a cook and clean-up team member. According to the lawsuit, when the restaurant manager learned that the young man needed a sign language interpreter for his job interview, she canceled his job interview, even though the applicant's sister volunteered to serve as an interpreter. The restaurant continued to interview and hire new workers after the young man made several attempts to reschedule an interview.”
What employers need to know about discrimination lawsuits and job applicants
This type of conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which specifies that reasonable accommodations must be made for disabled applicants and employees, and is a protected class to prevent discrimination. The applicant’s sister who volunteered to interpret would have easily sufficed as a reasonable accommodation.
In addition to the settlement amount for the ob applicant, this McDonald’s location agreed to a three-year consent decree that includes the following: 1) Train all management employees on the ADA requirements, 2) Provide a telephone line for applicants to call and request an accommodation, and 3) Submit annual compliance reports to EEOC.
According to EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran, "Unemployment rates for disabled workers far exceed those of the general population, and employers create a huge barrier to employment when they fail to provide necessary reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. Such behavior is short-sighted in addition to being unlawful."
How businesses can prevent discrimination lawsuits
The McDonald's settlement serves as a reminder for employers that the ADA covers employees as well as job applicants. You cannot refuse to interview somebody simply because of a disability, or you may face a disability discrimination lawsuit. Your HR partner can provide you with more details. When in doubt, consult an expert.
For more tips and information on ADA compliance, please contact our HR experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.